The Myth Makers
Create Your Own Story
Happy New Year from BooksfromScotland! If you're wondering what 2023 will have in store for you, then one thing we can guarantee and that is good reading! We kick off the year with books that highlight the classic and the iconic as well as explore how we make ourselves. There are some exciting debutants and familiar faces; what a great start to the year!
Toy Fights: A Boyhood By Don Paterson Published by Faber
Sometimes I think how easy it must be to be a TV commissioning editor. Of course, you’ll have to read a few duff books – all those narcissistic memoirs offering little more than an expanded CV, all achievements underlined, all old battles rehashed and revenged, all doubt and despair discreetly tidied away. But every now and again, there’ll be books like Don Paterson’s Toy Fights, which play out in your head as you read them.
Maybe you’d want to change the title. You could call it The Young Poet, for example, because after all that’s what most people know about Paterson: that he has won every poetry award going for his own stuff and has spent decades writing about, editing and teaching everyone else’s. Then again, maybe not. Because by the time Toy Fights ends, with the 20-year-old Paterson leaving Dundee on the London train to try his luck as a jazz guitarist, there’s not even a hint that this is how his life will eventually pan out.
By that stage, though, Paterson has already done something that eludes most memoirists. He has taken the reader into the mind he had – or at least a convincing version of it – as a teenager. This is an uncomfortable place to be – particularly so when, as a 16-year-old, he was hospitalised after an acute schizophrenic episode. I have never read a better description of what Baudelaire called ‘the wind of the wing of madness’ – a feeling of having no centre, of not knowing who answered when he was spoken to, of having a mind occupied by vandalising strangers, while all the time convinced that an irretrievable dissolution of the self is just a misstep away.
The teenage Pate...
Rabbie’s Rhymes: Robert Burns For Wee Folk By James Robertson Published by Itchy Coo
‘I wanted to show the very different ways that these two women coped with their visions, and also to explore what life was like for a woman in the medieval period.’
‘During Lillias’s initial interrogation, she swore, “What I am to say shall be as true as the sun is in the firmament.”‘
‘But in these days of mass communication we are more aware than ever of how fragile our world is.’
‘I think it’s time to step away from that militaristic framework and see that everything that ever lived, whether it’s big and small, charismatic or niche, hunter or prey – is successful and well adap …
‘Green grass, yellow flowers, my lover’s eyes are blue.’
‘The inspiration around the book was friendship in all its glory, the negatives, and the positives.’
‘I look over at the Hand of God, panicked. But he’s just looking ahead and navigating the car through more grey city streets. He doesn’t look like he’s noticed anything at all.’
‘Martha was sitting on her bed the evening it all began. Sunlight spilled in through the open window, and, if Martha had not been concentrating so hard on the notepad in her lap, she might have notice …
‘What would he do if he knew the truth? If he knew what a good actress I’ve become? How devastated would he be then?’